Comelec exec warns cyberbullies of election offenses, libel raps

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines – Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Wednesday warned supporters of candidates who are engaging in online bashing that they may be charged with election offenses and libel.

“Abiso lang po sa lahat, hindi po dahil naka-social media kayo ay you are free to use whatever language, foul language and threats against other persons. So kung maari po sana maging lesson na rin po ito sa atin,” Guanzon said on Tuesday.

Guanzon initially issued a warning on her Twitter account on Monday saying, “Hate speech, bullying, threats of rape or injury is actionable.” She said that after she tweeted the warning, the keyboard warriors stopped commenting against her.

 “Ay, they stopped bullying me na because nag-Twitter nga ako na: ‘warning threats of rape, bullying, intimidation of campaigners is an actionable offense. Nag-warning na ako sa Twitter ko and walang nag-bash, parang they took me seriously na,” she told the reporters.

Guanzon’s warning was issued following a case filed by a female human rights defender and climate advocate, Renee Juliene Karunungan, who received threats from supporters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.

READ: Environmentalist files raps vs Duterte supporters for cyberbullying

The commissioner clarified that supporters who bully others online can be charged under the Omnibus Election Code, which is under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Elections, while grave threats can be answerable by criminal law’s revised penal code.

“Inuulit lang po namin na ang election offense ay nasa jurisdiction ng Comelec. Nandiyan po 'yan sa batas ng Omnibus Election pero kung maninira kayo ng tao at mag-threat threat na mangaggahasa maari ding pong pumatong 'yan or mag-apply sa revised penal code. ‘Yun po ang ginawa ng complainant na si Ms. Karunungan,” Guanzon explained.

Guanzon earlier hit at back the supporters of Duterte, who criticized and threatened her online, after she assailed the mayor for making the “disgusting” joke about an Australian missionary in the 1980s who was a victim of rape and murder.

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